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Surgical Oncology

When you're diagnosed with cancer, part of your treatment plan may include surgery.

If your cancer care team recommends surgery, a surgeon who specializes in treating cancer—called a surgical oncologist—will perform an operation to:

  • Remove all or some of a cancer
  • Find out exactly where the cancer is located
  • Find out if the cancer has spread or is affecting the functions of other organs
  • Restore the body's appearance or function
  • Relieve side effects

Surgical techniques for cancer

Depending on the type of cancer and its location, different methods of surgery may be used to treat it. The most common techniques include:

Traditional surgery

Traditional surgery, also known as open surgery, involves a surgical oncologist making an incision to remove a tumor and/or check surrounding tissue and lymph nodes. Recovery times after traditional surgery vary based on the extent of surgery, but often they are longer than with more minimally invasive techniques.

Minimally invasive surgery

Surgical oncologists treat cancer with minimally invasive surgeries through small incisions using specialized instruments rather than through larger incisions—like in traditional surgeries. The surgeon uses a television screen for a magnified view during the procedure.

Because the surgery technique is less invasive, it offers many benefits for patients including:

  • Less pain
  • Less recovery time
  • Less time away from work and other activities

While there are many advantages to minimally invasive and robotic surgeries, they are not the right choices for everyone and cannot be used to treat every type of cancer. Your surgeon will discuss your options, which may include a combination of techniques.

Robotic surgery

Gundersen's da Vinci® Surgical System allows surgeons to perform operations at the controls of a state-of-the-art robotic platform, enabling surgical oncologists to complete complex and delicate procedures through very small incisions with unmatched precision.

Patients who undergo this surgical technique experience benefits similar to minimally invasive surgery:

  • Less pain during recovery
  • Less blood loss
  • Less scarring
  • Shorter recovery times
  • A faster return to normal daily activities
Love + Medicine

Every day, Gundersen Health System staff deliver great medicine plus a little something extra—we call it Love + Medicine.

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